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Clostridium estertheticum testing
Cl. estertheticum "blown-pack" spoilage causes substantial economic losses to the meat industry each year.
Since 1997 we have offered the meat industry a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to detect Cl. estertheticum in samples taken from meat and the abattoir environment. In 2003 we developed a state of the art quantitative (q) PCR to detect and quantify Cl. estertheticum in samples submitted for testing by the meat industry. To date we have used this assay to test more than 85,000 samples.
Tel: 0117 394 0510
How to submit samples
1. We normally request that samples are collected using plain dry swabs, moistened if necessary (e.g. for environmental samples) with sterile water or diluent such as peptone saline (maximum recovery diluent). Suitable samples include, plain cotton swabs (see left), meat, or drip from vac-packed meat. No transport medium of any kind should be included. In particular, do not use swabs that have been dipped in "neutralising diluent", as this usually gives invalid results.
2. Please complete our online submission form. Samples should be submitted along with a purchase order number and contact details. If samples have been taken from suspect, blown or spoiled vac-packed meat please indicate this.
3. Test prices are shown below:
Between 1 and 19 samples - £25+VAT per sample
Twenty or more samples - £23+VAT per sample
Invoices are generated on a weekly basis and payment can be made by our secure online payment system
4. Swabs can be sent without refrigeration. Please see the online submission form for the address to send to.
5. The test is usually performed twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.
The organism causes "blown-pack" spoilage of vacuum-packed chill-stored raw beef, lamb and venison by the production of gas (hydrogen and carbon dioxide) and foul smelling sulphurous compounds. Vacuum-packs may become grossly distended with gas if contaminated with high numbers of Cl. estertheticum, or may just appear loose if contaminated with lower numbers. Invariably contaminated vacuum-packed meat has a foul smell when opened.
All samples are spiked with an internal amplification control (IAC) DNA and subjected to nucleic acid purification. QPCR is then performed to detect Cl. estertheticum and the IAC simultaneously in every sample. To ensure sample DNA has been extracted correctly and lacks PCR inhibitors we compare the IAC result for each sample to a known IAC control sample. Suitable QPCR controls are also included in every run to determine assay validity. Samples with IAC results significantly different to the known IAC control are deemed invalid. Normally we find between 1 - 2 % of results are invalid and for these samples we repeat the QPCR after re-extracting the DNA, almost all samples then give a valid result. We do not charge the customer extra for this.
Samples with valid IAC results have their Cl. estertheticum result scored between zero and 10 (zero being no Cl. estertheticum detected and 10 being the highest level we have ever detected). There is approximately a 10-fold difference in the number of Cl. estertheticum between each point on the scale.